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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday #TNF Edition: Awuzie Killed It, Running Game Is Back

Mauricio Rodriguez

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For the second consecutive week, the Dallas Cowboys played football on Thursday, meaning that we get to have a special edition of Takeaway Tuesday, on Saturday. Also, for the first time in four weeks, we’ve got victory takeaways. How ’bout them Cowboys!

The Washington Redskins are slowly forgetting how it feels to beat the Cowboys, after they were defeated last Thursday with a 38-14 scoreboard. Just when all Cowboys fans were throwing in the towel, Garrett’s team gave us a tiny bit of hope.

Obviously, the road ahead is not easy. However, this Cowboys team showed us a few things that are pretty promising. Here are this week’s takeaways!

Chidobe Awuzie Will Be Good

Is Chidobe Awuzie Already The Cowboys Best CB?Finally, we got to see Chidobe Awuzie play football. After Anthony Brown was demoted, Awuzie got to start at left cornerback and he did a remarkable job versus the Redskins. We all wanted to see good things out of the second-round pick who’s been dealing with a hamstring injury all year.

Well, we got something. Awuzie was amazing and he proved that he should remain the starter going forward.

Awuzie got to play in more than 88% of the defensive snaps, per Pro Football Reference. Although his stats aren’t off the charts, his coverage was amazing and we should give him a lot of credit for what seemed like an improvement in the secondary.

I like the idea of a Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie CB duo for the future, and I bet receivers won’t be happy to know they’ll be facing these two guys in years to come.

Cowboys’ Running Game Is Back 

A big reason why the Cowboys were losing games, is the absence of Ezekiel Elliott. Truth be told, it really was starting to feel like we had overrated the back-up RB committee that Dallas has.

DMC was ultimately cut, and between Alfred Morris and Rod Smith, things weren’t going as planned. But for the first time without Zeke, the Cowboys were able to put together a solid running game.

Cowboys en Español: Dallas Se Mantiene Con Vida, ¿Qué Cambió? 2

Since the suspension began, I’ve been one of those guys who wants Rod Smith to get more and more carries. However, right now, Morris complicated things for Jaylon’s brother. I still wish Smith gets more carries and a chance to shine as Zeke’s future back-up, but Morris made his case this Thursday and there’s no reason to expect a change at RB anytime soon.

Naturally, the offensive line deserves a lot of credit for taking it to another level and dominating Washington’s front seven play after play. This might’ve been La’el Collins and Tyron Smith‘s best games of the season.

Kavon Frazier Could Become a Constant Contributor

Cowboys Training Camp: 5 Fringe Players Fans Should Follow

Dallas Cowboys S Kavon Frazier Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Kavon Frazier has been outstanding on special teams all season long, and his name has stood out a couple of times. But last Thursday, Frazier shined on defense as well. He was only on the field for 21 defensive snaps, but he clearly made a difference more than a few times.

This coaching staff probably saw the same thing we did, and that’s Frazier balling out.

I wonder if the Cowboys will be willing to give him a chance during future games to prove himself. What if he actually does a good job at safety and he gives a player like Byron Jones the opportunity to play at CB and improve the secondary?

At the very least, Frazier will continue to be one of the team’s most valuable players on special teams.

Anthony Hitchens Is a Very Good LB

Anthony Hitchens 1

Dallas Cowboys LB Anthony Hitchens (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Cowboys’ defense has clearly suffered every game missed by Sean Lee. However, Anthony Hitchens himself has become into another great football player for the Dallas Cowboys.

Yeah, Lee is out, but without Hitchens I can guarantee to you, that it could’ve been worse. Hitchens has done a nice job holding this defense together and I expect him to continue doing do.

This is the last year on Hitchens’ contract and I’d be astonished if the front office doesn’t re-sing him in the offseason. Dallas could have a very special group of guys with Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, Anthony Hitchens and possibly, a LB taken in the first rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Cowboys Got The Confidence Boost They Needed

The Cowboys’ road to the playoffs is more than tough. They put themselves in a position where it isn’t only up to them, but some other teams have to lose to keep their hopes alive. However, perspective changes when you stop getting blown out every game.

Dak Prescott and company have a unique chance to take advantage of the confidence boost they got in this week’s game. Next time they take the field, they’ll be taking on a Giants team that will probably be playing a QB not named “Eli Manning.”

The Cowboys do have tough games versus the Raiders, the Seahawks and possibly the Eagles (even though they might be playing with back-ups only when the time comes around in week 17).

But, for now, let’s focus on getting four wins in four weeks. Hope dies last… let’s go Cowboys!

Tell me what you think about “Takeaway Tuesday #TNF Edition: Awuzie Killed It, Running Game Is Back” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I’ve been rooting for America’s team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I’m in… You’ll find me at @PepoR99.

Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant

The Dallas Cowboys headed to New York a couple of days ago with a mission: survive a potential trap game versus a 2-10 New York Giants team. Despite not getting most of the help they needed from other teams around the league, at least Dallas was able to do the job they could control.

Through three quarters, the Cowboys struggled a lot. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter when they decided to have a touchdown party, outscoring the Giants 20-0 in the final eight minutes of the game.

What did we learn from the Cowboys’ seventh win of the season? Here is this week’s edition of Takeaway Tuesday! 

Dak Prescott Bounced Back

Although the Cowboys are a team that’s barely breathing in the playoff race, the truth is there’re a lot of ways that Dak has improved as a QB. It’s easy to look at a team lose football games and blame the QB without hesitating. That’s been the case most of the season.

It’s fair to say that Prescott hadn’t had an awesome game in a long time, though. But this time, he did just that.

Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants' Blitz

Dak Prescott needed a performance like this one. He threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns last Sunday. He made some key throws and key reads during the game and managed to beat the Giants’ blitz with ease. Glad to see you hush the haters, 4.

Certainly a good thing to see when you need to go 3-0 in order to stay in the postseason conversation.

Concerns Around Dez Bryant Continue to Increase

Listen, I love Dez Bryant. He’s been one of my favorite players to ever watch. But at some point, you have to start admitting there is a problem. Yes, Dez Bryant has been struggling this season. Whether you want to blame Dak or Dez about it, it’s fair. I think they both are to blame.

The thing about Dez is that he can have quite a few bad plays and makes you forget about it when he  does something awesome. A perfect example of this is his 50-yard TD against the Giants last Sunday. It came at a perfect moment, but he had dropped some easy balls earlier in the game.

Dez – Streamable

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Dez is getting paid like an elite WR, and despite some great moments on the field, he’s been having a lot of bad ones lately. If you have a $70M contract, you can’t frequently drop passes like that.

It may be about chemistry with his new QB, it may be about age, or it may be just about a couple of bad years for the guy. Whatever it is, as much as we hate to say it, Dez isn’t anywhere close to the “top receivers” conversation this year.

Sean Lee Proved to be Invaluable Once Again

Less Is More For Sean Lee And Cowboys' LBs?I’m constantly amazed by the difference the Cowboys’ veteran linebacker makes when he’s on the field. In his heroic return against the Giants, he finished the day with 18 total tackles, 10 of which were solo. With Sean Lee on the field, this defense has been able to be a headache for opposing offenses.

Sean Lee could easily be this team’s MVP. For Cowboys Nation, it’s been a season of constantly missing football players in Dallas. Out of everyone, I think Sean Lee is the player we missed the most. Including Ezekiel Elliott.

This defense transforms into a very capable one with Lee around. The Cowboys need Zeke back if they want to have success in their hunt for the playoffs, but without Lee, they wouldn’t stand a chance.

Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis Are Still Killing It

Coming into this game, one of the biggest question marks was the cornerback position for Dallas. Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis were going to get the start, and there’s always uncertainty around rookies going up against a QB like Eli Manning.

lewis – Streamable

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Look at that coverage by Jourdan Lewis. Look at him turn his head around when the ball’s coming. The way this secondary will grow is exciting to think about. The Cowboys have something special in these two guys. They’ll make for an amazing CB duo for years to come, and I’m excited about what they bring to the table.

Chidobe Awuzie has played the last two games, and he’s been very impressive. Throughout the entire game, his converge was pretty impressive. Eli only targeted him 5 times in the ballgame and was able to complete just two passes against him.

Sean Lee ended up with the interception late in the fourth quarter, but it was perfectly set up by Chidobe Awuzie.

Awuzie – Streamable

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It was a very fun fourth quarter for the Dallas Cowboys, and even though it looks difficult… this football team’s playoff hopes are still alive. Jason Garrett must keep this team focused in the Oakland Raiders for now, though.

Hope dies last, Cowboys Nation. Keep your head up.

Tell me what you think about “Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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Game Notes

Forget Elliott For Now, Cowboys Must Focus On Raiders

Kevin Brady

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Despite looking dead to rights just two weeks ago, back to back wins have put the Dallas Cowboys into the playoff hunt with just three games remaining.

In order to even have a chance at sneaking in as the sixth seed, Dallas will need to win each of its remaining games to finish 10-6. In some ways, the playoffs started two weeks ago when Dallas took on the Washington Redskins. But even though this Sunday’s contest is another must-win, elimination game for the Cowboys, it’s also a classic “trap” or “look ahead” game as well.

Before the season started, most expected the Oakland Raiders to be competing for AFC supremacy. Like the Cowboys, Oakland bursted onto the scene in 2016 with a young quarterback, a dynamic offense, and an exciting roster. But, like the Cowboys, they have faltered a bit this season due to underperforming stars, injuries, and a somewhat undermanned defensive unit.

The Raiders are now 6-7, and while still alive in the AFC West race, saw their best shot at overtaking the division go up in a smoke last Sunday as they were demolished by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Simply put, the Raiders are not a very good football team right now. And though this will be a road game for the Cowboys, it is one they should win if they are truly a playoff team. In fact, it’s one they have to win if they want to keep their slim playoff chances alive.

The reason why this could potentially be a “trap” game of sorts is who the Cowboys are scheduled to play after traveling to Oakland. A team who has been a perennial playoff contender in the NFC, and a team directly in front of the Cowboys in the current NFC standings – the Seattle Seahawks.

Not only will that Seattle game be massively important to the Cowboys if they can sneak out of Oakland with a victory, it will also feature the return of star running back Ezekiel Elliott from his six game suspension.

December 24th will be a huge day in Dallas if the Cowboys can get to 8-6 this week, but they can ill-afford to look ahead to that potentially important showdown with the Seahawks. Because if they do and the Raiders upset them at the home in primetime, the Cowboys season will end before Elliott even gets the chance to come back.

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Game Notes

Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants’ Blitz

Kevin Brady

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Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants' Blitz

While much of Sunday’s victory over the New York Giants featured some ugly football from the Dallas Cowboys, the team continued to fight until completing a 20 point route of their division rivals.

Of course, stars emerged on both the offense and the defense throughout the game. Rod Smith had a breakout day, Dez Bryant made a couple of “vintage” plays, and Sean Lee returned to health and led the defense to a fantastic performance.

But as we all know, quarterbacks make the world go ’round. And no matter how great the other pieces play, it’s hard to win football games unless you can maintain high level quarterback play.

Dak Prescott returned to that high level against the Giants on Sunday.

Even if Prescott is missing throws or having accuracy issues, he had never lost his composure or made the wrong reads until that Atlanta Falcons debacle. I really believe that Dak lost faith in his protection, began abandoning clean pockets, and ended up having a few bad games in a row.

All seems right with Prescott now, as he threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns during the Cowboys’ big win. The area he was most impressive, was with those reads – specifically against the blitz.

dalvsnyg dak to dez td – Streamable

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On his first touchdown pass of the game, Dak Prescott beats the blitz perfectly. Just before snapping the ball, Prescott notices the safety roll down into the box. You can see him subtly move his arm to point out the safety, while calling it out to his linemen as well.

As soon as he gets the snap, Dak knows exactly where to go. The Giants tried to beat him with a delayed safety blitz, but once that safety comes, Prescott knows he has Dez Bryant in man coverage on the perimeter.

His eyes immediately snap that way, and his throw replaces the blitzer quickly. This allows Bryant to do the rest, and the Cowboys to tie the game.

dalvsnyg 17 cole beasley – Streamable

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Later in the game we see more of the same from Dak Prescott. With the game tied at 10 the Cowboys faced a critical third down backed up in their own territory. The Giants once again show blitz, bring the  blitz, and Dak burns them for it.

The Giants show man coverage across the board pre-snap, with safety Landon Collins on the near hash. Cole Beasley is in the near-slot, and while he technically has a man over him directly, the Giants show 2-over-1 in the slot pre-snap. This usually tips off a blitz, as the Giants plan to bring their slot defender off the edge, and allow Landon Collins to cover Beasley one on one.

Prescott notices this pre-snap once again, and makes the defense pay. He quickly replaces the blitzer with his throw, allowing Beasley to make the easy catch underneath and then do the rest after the catch.

This may not seem all the difficult to do to those analyzing the game the next morning, but these reads indicate high level quarterback-ing from the Cowboys’ franchise leader, Dak Prescott.

Last season against the Giants, their defense was able to bring more than the Cowboys could block on key third downs a few times. Too often, Prescott and the passing offense could not beat those blitzes.

That was not the case this week at all.

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